Democrats welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, Thursday, while Republicans were far more split.
The divide between the two parties is not surprising given the polling data on Zelensky specifically and Russia’s war in Ukraine more broadly.
Republicans, it turns out, have become far more dovish on that conflict and in how they view the United States’ role in the world more generally.
It may be hard to imagine now but Zelensky was once admired on both sides of the political aisle. At the beginning of the war, Zelensky sported a 77% favorability rating among Democrats and a 61% favorability rating among Republicans, according to a March 2022 Quinnipiac University poll. Just 6% of Republicans and 2% of Democrats viewed him unfavorably.
Since then, however, the tone from Republican leaders has soured. Whether these officials are guiding their voters or merely following them, the poll numbers have shifted significantly.
A July 2023 Gallup poll found that Zelensky’s favorability rating with Republicans had declined to 51%. His unfavorable rating, meanwhile, had skyrocketed to 41%. This meant his net favorability with Republicans went from +55 points to +10 points in a little over a year.
Democratic leaders have been far more supportive of the Ukrainian leader, which could be why their voters have largely stayed that way too. Zelensky’s favorability rating among Democrats was 75% in July, according to the Gallup poll — similar to the 77% in 2022, per Quinnipiac. While his unfavorable rating had ticked up, it still remained low at 11%.
The views toward Zelensky are emblematic of how Americans feel about the US involvement in the Ukraine-Russia conflict as a whole.
Read more about the divide over aid to Ukraine.